Superman II
Directed by: Richard Lester
Richard Donner
Produced by: Pierre Spengler

Written by:

Comic Book:
Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
Leslie Newman
David Newman

Music by:

Ken Thorne
John Williams


127 min.


$54,000,000 (estimated)

Gross Revenue:


Previous film:

Superman: The Movie

Next film:

Superman III

Superman II is the 1980 sequel to the 1978 superhero film Superman. It was the only Superman film to be filmed by two directors. For this reason the film is surrounded with controversy since original director Richard Donner had completed, by his estimation, roughly 75% of the movie in 1977 before being taken off the project. Many of the scenes shot by second director Richard Lester (who had been an uncredited producer on the first film) in 1979 are refilmed Donner sequences. It was released in Europe and Australia in late 1980 but not in the United States until June 19, 1981 (one week after the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark). Selected premiere engagements of Superman II were presented in Megasound, a high-impact surround sound system similar to Sensurround.

According to statements by Donner, roughly 25% of the theatrical cut of Superman II contains footage he shot, including all of Gene Hackman's scenes. In 1984, when Superman II premiered on television, 24 minutes were re-inserted into the film (17 minutes on ABC). Much of the extra footage was directed by Richard Donner. In the ABC-TV version, a U.S. "polar patrol" is shown picking up the three Kryptonians and Lex Luthor at the end of the film. Without this ending, it appears that Superman has let the Kryptonians die, though Superman has a strict code against killing and their deaths aren't necessary once they are depowered. On the other hand, the theatrical version's ending implies that Luthor is left stranded at the Fortress of Solitude, leaving the viewer to wonder how he got to prison in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — that question was answered in the extended versions. The ending of the extended cuts also has Superman, with Lois standing beside him, destroy the Fortress of Solitude.

A brand new re-cut of the film, restoring as much of Donner's original conception as possible, titled Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, was released in November 2006, with approximately 83% of the footage therein having been filmed by Donner, and the remainder being Richard Lester footage kept to fill in the gaps of footage that Donner had never been able to film before his firing. The latter part of the aforementioned scene can also be found on Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, while the part where the police arrive is a deleted scene.


Prior to the destruction of Krypton, the criminals General Zod, Ursa and Non are sentenced by Jor-El for banishment into the Phantom Zone. Many years after traveling through the galaxy, the Phantom Zone is shattered near Earth by the shockwave from the harmless detonation of a hydrogen bomb launched into space by Superman while saving the Eiffel Tower and the city of Paris. The three criminals are freed, finding themselves with super powers granted by the yellow light of Earth's sun. After attacking human astronauts on the moon and the small town of East Houston, Idaho, the three travel to the White House and force the President of the United States to surrender to Zod (on behalf of the entire planet) during an international television broadcast. When the President warns Zod that Superman will stop them, Zod announces his demand for Superman to come and "kneel before Zod!"

Prior to Zod's arrival, Clark Kent and Lois Lane are sent on assignment for the Daily Planet to Niagara Falls. Lois becomes suspicious that Clark is Superman and tries to lure him into revealing his identity by throwing herself into the Falls, but Clark manages to save her with subtle use of his powers. That night, Clark accidentally reaches into the room's fireplace to recover Lois' fallen hairbrush; when Lois discovers his hand is not even burnt, Clark is forced to admit he is Superman. He takes her to his Fortress of Solitude near the North Pole and shows her the traces of his past stored in the energy crystals of the Fortress, one which Lois misplaces under her purse. Superman decides to undergo a transformation to make himself human by exposing himself to the red Kryptonian sunlight to become romantically closer to Lois, a process which destroys many of the energy crystals. After spending the night together, the two return to populated areas by conventional means, and soon learn of Zod's demand. Realizing that humanity cannot fight Zod themselves, Clark decides to return to the Fortress to try to reverse the transformation.

Lex Luthor, who has managed to escape from jail (with Eve Teschmacher's assistance), has tracked down the Fortress using an alpha wave detector, and learns from the remaining crystals of Superman's connection to Jor-El and of General Zod. He traces Zod to Washington D.C., and offers to lead Zod to Jor-El's son in exchange for control of Australia. Accepting his offer, the three Kryptonians are directed by Luthor to the offices of the Daily Planet where they abduct Lois. Superman arrives, after having found the misplaced crystal and reversing the transformation process, and attempts to fight the three. Zod realizes Superman cares for the innocent humans and take advantage of this weakness to force Superman into submission. In order to protect Metropolis, Superman flies off towards his Fortress, with Zod, Ursa, and Non giving chase and carrying Lois and Luthor with them.

At the Fortress, Superman attempts to lay one last trap to stop Zod but fails. As Zod holds Superman in submission, Luthor reveals the ability of the Fortress to revert Superman into a human, a punishment that Zod sets forth. When Superman steps into the transformation chamber, the rest of the Fortress is bathed in red light. The three villains realize too late that Superman, knowing of Luthor's treachery, altered the transformation process to expose everyone outside the chamber to the red light, thus cancelling Zod, Ursa and Non's Kryptonian powers. With Lois' help, Superman is able to send the criminals into the bottomless depths of the Fortress. Superman returns Luthor to the authorities, despite the criminal's pleas that he was in on his plan. Superman returns Lois to her home. At the Daily Planet the following day, Superman (as Clark) kisses Lois, using his telepathic abilities to wipe Lois' mind of all the events surrounding Zod's arrival on Earth -- including her knowledge that Clark and Superman are the same person. Superman restores the damage done by Zod, and as he replaces the flag on top of the White House, promises the President to never again abandon his duty.



See AlsoEdit

Superman Film Series (Lester)
Films:   Superman: The Movie  • Superman II  • Superman III   Superman IV: The Quest for Peace